“Surf Expo Summer Edition Heats Up with New Brands, Floor Category” by Kari Hamanaka via Shop eat Surf

“Surf Expo Summer Edition Heats Up with New Brands, Floor Category” by Kari Hamanaka via Shop eat Surf

SES file photo

Expect plenty of newness come September for the Surf Expo Summer show.

That includes roughly 30% of the exhibitor makeup being new, a continued uptick of buyers and brands from specialty outdoor outfitters, and the growing presence of emerging brands seeing traction in the market.

“We are in the business of new, whether it’s new product from an existing line or new brands,” said Emerald Expositions Senior Vice President and Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner. “It’s all about new products and new product launches, which you’ll see a lot of at Surf Expo.”

The trade show is part of Emerald, which also owns Shop Eat Surf.

More than 775 exhibitors next month will show their summer lines, with some also previewing fall and holiday collections. Show floor square footage is up 20% from last year.

Turner said Surf Expo expects roughly 5,000 qualified buyers to attend in September, up from January, as they look to hit a buyer-to-booth ratio of 8 to 1. 

Boardriders Impact

The show floor will continue to mirror sentiment around the closely watched sale of the Boardriders group to Authentic Brands Group, which is expected to close at the end of August.

“We’re a reflection of the industry and obviously there’s still some concern around what’s going on with Boardriders and how that affects the industry,” Turner said.

In fact, he said the topic is one the Surf Expo team regularly fields questions on.

“I’ve been in the business 40-plus years, and I’ve seen our industry go through two big changes of the tide. It’s really interesting to see the momentum being gained right now from brands like Salty Crew, Dark Seas, VisslaRoarkRVCA’s been there for a while, Captain Fin,” Turner said. “I’m seeing this emergence of really, really great young brands that are developing a following at specialty retail in the surf market and then there’s still the powerhouses like the Hurleys and Billabongs coming on.”

Outdoors and Outfitters

The growing roster of emerging brands is coupled with the debut of the Shoreline section of the show floor. Shoreline originally launched in January and will be running for the first time at the Surf Expo September iteration.

“A growing bracket for us are things related to lake life and fishing,” Turner said. “Shoreline’s expanding the idea of what a shoreline is, so we have products that a family would take to the beach on the weekend, whether it’s using a cart, lighting, camping, hammocks, stand-up paddles. It’s checking really well in all age groups and all price categories.”

Shoreline pushes Surf Expo into a conversation around whether the East Coast trade show, which has served as the largest for the surf industry, has opportunity to have the show floor delve more deeply into the broader outdoors. The question is particularly apt as more traditional action sports brands look to nab share in that growing market.

The answer to the question, Turner said, is “yes” and the trade show has already begun to reflect those business shifts over the past few years.

“If you think about the customer base, while they might identify as a surfer, a lot of them identify as a water sports enthusiast which can be standup paddle, kayak, surfing, free diving, snorkeling, anything,” Turner said. “They’re all outdoor activities and you don’t have to be above treeline to do that, so we’ve started to see the buyer base expand around those ideas.”

That has meant an uptick in retailers coming from the outfitter world. It’s not necessarily an REI, but more in the specialty outdoor realm.

“We are an outdoor industry,” Turner said. “It’s just that our premise, our DNA, is that we are water focused. I like to tell people if you sell a product that can be used with one foot in the water and one foot in the sand, then Surf Expo’s a perfect fit.”

Surf Expo will take place Sept. 7 to 9 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Kari Hamanaka can be reached at

About Surf Expo 

Surf Expo is the largest and longest running watersports, beach and resort lifestyle tradeshow in the world. Produced twice annually in January and September, Surf Expo draws buyers from stores across the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America and around the world. The show historically features hundreds of apparel and hardgoods brands along with a full line-up of special events, education opportunities and awards ceremonies. Surf Expo is a trade-only event. Visit for more information about the upcoming show September 7-9, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. 

About Emerald

Emerald’s talented and experienced team grows our customers’ businesses 365 days a year through connections, content, and commerce. We expand connections that drive new business opportunities, product discovery, and relationships with over 140 annual events, matchmaking, and lead-gen services. We create content to ensure that our customers are on the cutting edge of their industries and are continually developing their skills. And we power commerce through efficient year-round buying and selling. We do all this by seamlessly integrating in-person and digital platforms and channels. Emerald is immersed in the industries we serve and committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. As true partners, we create experiences that inspire, amaze, and deliver breakthrough results. For more information, please visit

We, at Board Retailers Association, strongly encourage you to attend this massively important trade show. The new product ideas and business strategies that can be identified at the various educational seminars, networking forums, exhibitors booths and special events can make the difference between a normal or down season and a significant up season for your shop and enable you to recharge your battery and motivation. If you have never attended or it has been a while since you attended the show, be sure to email to inquire about possibly receiving free lodging at the September Show. You can learn more about Surf Expo and register by clicking the following link: – Doug Works, Executive Director of BRA

If you are not yet a BRA Retail Member, you can easily opt in to either Regular (no cost) or Distinguished ($100/yr.) Membership via this super simple join form